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GRAND’S 10 Picks for CCRC Senior Living Communities

GRAND’s 10 Picks For CCRC Senior Living Cmmunities


In 1993, my legally blind then 80-year-old grandmother, pronounced she was “putting herself” in a nursing home because she’d feel more comfortable with a nurse outside her door than in a Brooklyn apartment alone with a gas stove. She was right. For 19 years she flourished in a still family-owned facility in Connecticut where she soon, established her formally shy self, as the Queen Bee, AKA Resident Council President, through popular vote. Such success stories may not be the norm in the news, but they should be.

Though transitioning to a senior living facility may not always be a first choice like it was for my grandmother. For many, it affords a myriad of new opportunities; an enhanced lifestyle, fine dining options, countless socialization activities and a peace of mind that living independently simply cannot afford.

Today, in addition to the nursing homes that are more commonly called Skilled Nursing Facilities, many gravitate towards Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC’s), which offer people the opportunity to age in place. These properties often have Independent Living in the form of  private apartments on sprawling country and in bustling urban communities. Assisted Living provides a level of privacy and support, skilled nursing services for short-and-long term needs and secure memory care areas that are aesthetically designed to be comforting and familiar to residents. There are also many smaller facilities which cater to one or more of these four main categories of senior living.

People have countless options from large national names to smaller regional properties to a smaller group of independent residences, like my grandmother was in. It can be overwhelming to sort through these options to select the best fit. For the purpose of this article, national and regional brands known for their excellence in care, quality of staff and availability of lifestyle options were selected. We couldn’t This is not to say there aren’t many other wonderful properties available. We could not include all that are worthy of recognition. The goal of this article is to introduce you to brands that are notable for their reputation and services and to perhaps begin the process of research into a community that may meet your needs now or in the future. Pricing information varies by location and many factors contribute to what families pay. Please contact the facilities directly for the most accurate pricing.

Depending on the level of care, moving does not have to mean losing independence. It can mean an a spacious apartment with room for your out-of-state family to spend a week, a kitchen to make light meals in when you aren’t feeling up to dining in an elegant, space, which provides up to three meals a day, an on site spa, indoor wave pool, transport to social and cultural activities, billiards and putting green rooms, wood paneled pubs and more.

For those who need enhanced care like my grandmother, there is in-building occupational and physical therapy centers, around the clock nurse’s activities to stimulate memory and transportation to medical appointments.

Enjoy this GRAND tour of some of our nation’s properties with the understanding that home is where the heart is cared for, the mind is stimulated, and the body is safe.

Atria Senior Living  


“People belong together®, no matter how much – or how little – help they may need. Whether they simply want to be free from the stress of maintaining a home, could use some discreet daily support, or require more specialized care, Atria offers customized living options for individual needs and preferences.”

Atria is a privately-owned company headquartered in Kentucky and has over 225 communities in 27 states and seven Canadian provinces. Atria is committed to contributing to a healthy environment for its resident’s future descendants and all of their communities are LEED© certified, which promotes renewable clean energy while saving money and resources.

Photo Credit:  www.atriaseniorliving.com

Engage Life is Atria’s activity and event program, which engages residents not just with a robust calendar of events, but also the ability for them to suggest, create and lead programs based on their expertise or interest. The communities are based on a social model, which encourages connection amongst residents. Residents benefit from a variety of amenities such as housekeeping, maintenance and shuttle service to appointments and errands. Resident’s can watch their meals being prepared at Chef’s Table and try their hand and preparing them with cooking classes.

For more information

Benchmark Senior Living 

Benchmark cares about you—your passions, your dreams, your hobbies, your family, your memories, your life. We, at Benchmark Senior Living, have a heartfelt desire to get to know you and are innately curious about the fabric of your life stories. Our programming engagement specialist had a great idea to stimulate memory for residents by connecting them to their love for horses.

Photo credit: www.benchmarkseniorliving.com

Benchmark is based in Waltham, Massachusetts and has 58 communities, primarily in the Northeast, which provide assisted and independent living services, memory care and respite services for families. Benchmark has many properties trained in insulin to support diabetics, onsite speech and physical therapists as well as  hospice services.

One of factors that lends towards supporting diversity is the fact many properties have bilingual staff speaking languages such as Spanish, Italian, Armenian, French, Norwegian, German. The food options for residents are diverse as well with facilities offering a range of cuisine options to accommodate dietary restrictions as well as vegetarian and Kosher meals in locations. Benchmark recently won an award from the Assisted Living Federation of America for its Sensory Dining Services Program. Benchmark Living provides as 24-hour concierge service as well as round the clock facility management for Independent Living Residents.

For more information

Brookdale Senior Living Inc.


At Brookdale, you can expect us to be a trusted partner by listening and understanding your needs, discussing potential solutions and options, mutually determining the right thing to do and working with you to take action together. Then we customize a solution that puts the life you want within reach. It is our job to provide solutions for the unmet needs of those who seek senior living solutions.

Photo credit: www.brookdaleseniorliving.com

Brookdale has a vast national presence with 961 communities in 46 states and almost 82,000 associates. They are the largest national CCRC, but each community feels home like and has an elegantly individual personality. Brookdale has a variety of signature programs and one unique one is their Brainfit program, which is designed to reduce the risk of dementia and focuses on overall health and wellness. This program provides mental fitness workouts to classroom-based learning to in depth, engaging community initiatives residents can work on together. From a complimentary B-Fit program for physical wellness to a weekly initiative called My Life Story, which helps residents leave a lasting legacy, there are a multitude of options to enhance the resident experience.

For more information


Capital Senior Living


Capital Senior Living Corporation is one of the nation’s largest operators of residential communities for senior adults. The Company’s operating strategy is to provide value to residents by providing quality senior housing services at reasonable prices. Capital Senior Living residents use only the services they want and pay only for those they use.

Headquartered in Texas, Capital Senior living operates 129 senior living communities in 23 states. They were recognized by J.D. Power, a global market research company, as a Top Senior Living Provider in the J.D. Power’s 2018 Senior Living Satisfaction Study.

Photo credit: www.capitalseniorliving.com

For independent living residents, Capital Senior Living offers an array of services from nutritional counseling to curtesy transportation to medication reminders. The residents of their assisted living services have an additional level of care with 24-hour access to licenses nurses, housekeeping, laundry, assistance with dressing, bathing and other daily living activities and a wonderfully stimulating recreation program with activities, events and programs. The memory care communities are dedicated to preserving resident’s dignity, while providing compassionate approaches to challenging behaviors and habits. They offer sensory programing and emphasize consistent schedules to increase residents feelings of comfort and security.

For more information

Life Care Centers of America

ccrcLife Care offers more services in order to meet the needs of residents and patients across the country. Through the years, Life Care added Alzheimer’s and dementia care, assisted and independent living facilities, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, and on-site physicians. Life Care operates more than 200 skilled nursing homes, assisted living facilities, retirement living communities, and Alzheimer’s centers.

Photo credit:  www.lcca.com

Life Care has facilities across the United States in over 25 states including Hawaii. Since Life Care opened its first facility in 1970, they’ve worked actively to partner with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which aligns with their mission to contribute towards a cure. They focus on providing those with dementia and other memory loss issues to be loved, encouraged and appreciated. Their continuum of care campuses provides on-site rehabilitation and a broad range of opportunities for seniors to age in place as their needs change.

Life Care prides itself on providing an exceptional customer experience to residents and employees. They have a, “Whatever it Takes and Then Some” award, which honors and rewards associates who go above and beyond in their care of residents or treatment of their families.

For more information

Life Care Services, an LCS Company


Life Care Services®, An LCS Company, is the third-largest manager of rental senior living communities and continuing care retirement communities. At every community, you’ll find a rich array of services, countless programs for a fulfilling lifestyle, wellness programming for healthful living, social opportunities and resident camaraderie.

Life Care Services is based in Iowa and has a holistic approach to care focused on wellness. They pride themselves on 95% of their residents saying they’d recommend their property to a friend.

Photo credit: www.lifecareservices.com

A unique service they have, which provides a greater ease of living to seniors in their facilities is the Navigator model, which helps residents with everything from navigating their long-term care insurance to exploring spiritual connections to volunteer opportunities. The communities also offer residents in-house personal trainers who’ve been specifically trained on working with seniors.

Another feature that families are drawn to is the creative dynamic pricing, which offers the ability to address a variety of financial needs and situations.

For more information

Maplewood Senior Living


Based in Westport, Connecticut, Maplewood Senior Living is known for its upscale senior living residences offering a broad range of premier services and amenities, including independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing and rehabilitation. With communities in multiple states, Maplewood Senior Living is committed to providing its signature standard of excellence to residents.

Maplewood places a great emphasis on providing residents with a local experience and prides themselves on the fact that their senior executives and associates are local. They even use local ingredients to highlight their farm to table cuisine. They have two unique dining programs, “A Taste at the Table” which focuses on an emotion-based philosophy and “Inspired Dining” for those with memory impairment and is focused on the joy of living in the moment.

Photo/video credit:  www.maplewoodseniorliving.com

Maplewood uses technology to enhance the lives of residents from arranging Skype calls with grandkids to IN2L, which promotes socialization and stimulates residents cognitively. Their philosophy of “HEART™ (Humor, Empathy, Autonomy, Respect/Reaching out to others, and Trust and Triumph)” provides compassionate care to those with early, mid and more advanced memory impairment.

For more information

Meridian Senior Living


 Meridian Senior Living provides care and life services for more than 7,000 residents … one at a time. You know, and we understand the importance of making each day a little easier, more comfortable, convenient, enjoyable and secure. The most important people in our world are the valued residents who depend upon us for their home. Our world revolves around making life better for each member of our communities.

Photo credit: www.meridiansenior.com

Meridian has 82 communities across 20 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to the array of traditional CCRC services, Meridian has many unique programs from Pampered Stay, where seniors can visit the community for a few weeks to make friends and enjoy a break from their routine to their Eldergrow program, which offers therapeutic horticulture programs for those with memory loss. This program has reduced falls, elevated moods and improved motor skills.

Meridian provides rehab programs for those recovering from surgeries, illness and trauma and also has a Sub-Acute care for more complex medical conditions ranging from renal failure to vascular and neurological disorders. Ultimately, the signature WOW! Experience based on passionate living, summarizes Meridian’s personality.




Sunrise Senior Living

Beginning with a single community in 1981, there are now more than 325 Sunrise Senior Living communities throughout the U.S., in Canada and the United Kingdom. Each of our communities maintains the mission laid out by Sunrise founders Paul and Terry Klaassen more than 35 years ago: to champion quality of life for all seniors.

The Klaassens’ vision to redefine senior care resulted in a resident-centered approach to care that focuses on the individuality of each resident.

Sunrise was founded with a Dutch influence, which takes its inspiration from family homes, quaint hotels and charming restaurants. Initially the Klaassen’s lived with their first residents. Though the company has grown exponentially since then, it still maintains a home like environment for residents with each community having a cat or dog, adopted from a local shelter. Resident suites can also be personalized, for a more familiar and comfortable feel.

Photo/video credit:  www.sunriseseniorliving.com

Residents have access to eight “Live with Intention” programs from Live with Artistry to Live with Anticipation to Live with Generosity to Live with Live with Reflection. The Live with Anticipation program involves residents in creating new goals and harnessing existing talents.

For more information

 Watermark Retirement Communities


Headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, Watermark currently manages 58 communities in 21 states, including CCRCs, standalone independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities in addition to Medicare-certified rehabilitation and skilled nursing neighborhoods.

One of the most unique features of these properties is Watermark University, which just won the 2017 ICAA Innovators Achievement Award. Watermark University, which provides innovative, creative and stimulating resident activities and events is focused on building a sense of community as well as on wellness initiatives. This pet-friendly community has many properties where independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care are all available in the same address. The staff here is one of the true highlights of these communities and they range from phenomenal chefs to compassionate nursing aides to Naya’s a Sanskrit word representing certified guides for memory care residents. These caregivers provide home cooked meals for residents, support activities and provide exceptional care and comfort to those in the homelike residences.

Watermark for kids, was founded by the company president and is designed to create thriving young leaders. It provides financial support to kids to execute their vision and is supported by Watermark for Kids Coach’s, many of whom are residents.

For more information


We choose to focus on CCRC properties for this article because they provide the broadest range of services. While seemingly overwhelming, the broad array of senior living providers gives a multitude of options to those considering a new home. I strongly believe there is a fit out there for those open to a change that is designed to increase safety, socialization and peace of mind sanity. I have personal experience with some but not all of these brands, but am yet to walk into one I wish wouldn’t adjust their minimum age. After all, I don’t have access to in-home gourmet cooking classes, chauffeur services or even in a friendly neighborhood, the myriad of social interactions senior living promotes. My hope is this glimpse of options provides a spark of confidence in whatever the next stage in life is for you or your loved ones.

Note: Company websites provided quotes and community information.


Lia Jill Levitt is a global citizen who left corporate America to pursue her dream of becoming an intellectually inspiring speaker for seniors. Lia has created a multitude of distinctive programs to intellectually engage seniors in communities and spends most of her time in Assisting Living, Independent Living, Skilled Nursing and Memory Care Facilities. Lia is a regular in over twenty communities where she is focused on building memorable and sustaining relationships with residents and staff, who she provides training on topics such as emotional intelligence and brand management to. CCRC’s are the core of her business and she works with properties in five states and plans to expand geographically. She hopes to publish the world’s first happy (and true) story about a nursing home, where her blind grandmother thrived and inspired Lia’s love for working with and writing for seniors. Learn more at aintshesweet.net.




Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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